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A chat with Sérgio Dias, Las Vegan and frontman of Brazilian rock act Os Mutantes

You have said that the hard part of music is figuring out what the hell you did on record and re-creating that in concert. With your tour just starting, have you sussed all that out yet, or are you still working out the arrangements?

I think with the songs … every place you play is a different experience, a different energy from the people. So we give the music room to breathe. [The songs] shape themselves according to the audience. We have a lot of room for improvisation and if [a band member] wants to go to another musical plane, we’re ready for it.

Your new album came out recently. Any specific reason Fool Metal Jack is your first album almost entirely in English?

We did one before, but that was in France, some time in the 1970s. [Fool Metal Jack] has more songs in English. I’m living in Las Vegas, so the music is coming out naturally in English. Of course, there is the feeling you want to communicate [in your natural language], but the music came out that way. There’s no restrictions with our music. If the songs wanted to come out in Portuguese, we’d do it that way. But this album is born and raised in the U.S.

I know the title references the sociopolitical climate, but are you also a big Stanley Kubrick fan?

I am a Stanley Kubrick fan, a huge fan, but it doesn’t have anything to do with it. Full Metal Jacket is about war, and the music is about that, too. And it is also about “the fool” going to the war, and I put myself in that position. I am the “fool metal jack.” That’s what I think of when I … see a young kid, in the uniform, going to Afghanistan or wherever, and I wanted to understand what it’s like to be dying. That’s what I did there. The guy is dying. It’s a matter of people being aware [of the realities of war], and also the antithesis, the dichotomy of “no more war” and “yes, more war.” We have those two factions in the world.

Do you find any similarities to what’s going on here in the United States, and in Brazil when the band came up in the 1960s?

For sure. The situation of putting terror into the equation, that’s the worst thing that can happen. One of the best things about America was that you didn’t have to fear. The cop is over there, he’s passing by, you think he’s your friend. Now, if you’re with three guys on the street, he can simply get you and put you in jail. It’s an awful thing. You become self-aware, which is not a good thing. The great thing [about America in the 1960s] was you could be loose and happy, and now you have the Patriot Act — which is the same thing we had during the dictatorship [in Brazil]. We had no rights. And this is happening in America now.

Hearing “The Dream is Gone,” it sounds like your experiences living in Las Vegas have crept into the new songs.

Yes. [“The Dream is Gone”] all about foreclosure. We were looking for a house [in Las Vegas], and we entered one of this couple, and it was this awful feeling. We felt we would be ripping off their lives. It was very bad. You don’t normally see that in America, this kind of disaster. That was what moved me. They are very simple lyrics, but they’re deep for whoever has lost their home. It’s a total disorientating situation. It has to be mentioned.

Also, it had to be beautiful, because Las Vegas is such a beautiful place. I fell in love with it when we came for the [Latin] Grammys in 2007. I told my wife, let’s move here. And three days later, we decided to live there.

Did your decision also have to do with relaunching Os Mutantes?

All the [business] organization was all based here [in the U.S.]. The label was here, the lawyers were here. It was a logical decision.

Does anything about Las Vegas remind you of home or your Brazilian heritage?

For sure. If you go to the Strip, it’s the most ridiculous thing you ever saw — that mixture of people. Brazil is also a huge mixture. The Strip is the best picture of it.

Does finally playing your new hometown have special resonance to you?

Yeah. That’s going to be a really fun thing, to play at home, I’m very excited. I want to meet the people on the music scene in Las Vegas.

OS MUTANTES With Same Sex Mary, Capsula, Saturday, May 11, 9 p.m; Hard Rock Cafe, 3771 Las Vegas Blvd. South, www.ticketweb.com, $22-$25